National stroke week took place in Ireland this week.

I’ve decided to write about it from a Western Medicine point of view in this week’s article.

Stroke destroys two million brain cells every minute so TIME IS BRAIN. If you suspect that someone is having a stroke call 999 immediately.


When stroke strikes, act F.A.S.T.

The F.A.S.T. acronym was created as a helper for people to remember the main warning signs of stroke so that they can act immediately in the case of a stroke by dialling 999.

F.A.S.T. stands for:
FFace – has their face fallen on one side?  Can they smile?
AArms – Can they raise both arms and keep them there?
SSpeech – is their speech slurred?
TTime to call 999 if you spot any single one of these signs.

F.A.S.T.  can help you to rapidly recognise when a stroke is taking place and then act quickly to get medical treatment and prevent serious damage.

FAST for Stroke

Summary of FAST


Stroke Facts

  • 10,000 people in Ireland are admitted to hospital with stroke each year.
  • Stroke kills more than 2,000 people a year in Ireland – a higher death toll than from breast cancer, lung cancer and bowel cancer combined.
  • Stroke is the third most common cause of death and the most common cause of acquired physical disability in Ireland.
  • 350-500 lives per year could be saved if stroke unit care was introduced into Ireland.
  • There are 30,000 survivors of stroke in Ireland, many of whom have significant disabilities.
  • Approximately 80 per cent of strokes are caused by a blockage of an artery supplying blood to the brain. 20 per cent of strokes are caused by a bleed into the brain from a burst blood vessel.
  • Under-65s account for about one third of strokes.
  • Nearly one in three people will die within the first year after a stroke. Of those surviving, around 65 per cent will make a reasonable recovery.

Stroke services

  • In 2006, only 5% of stroke patients are admitted to hospital within 2 hours of the onset of stroke. After two hours a patient’s chance of recovering with little or no disability is greatly reduced.
  • Ireland has no specialist community stroke team for the long-term management of stroke patients after discharge from hospital.
  • In 2006 only 1% of patients spent more than 50% of their time in hospital in a stroke unit.

Stroke Units

  • In 2006, only one acute hospital (3% of acute hospitals) in Ireland operated a stroke unit.
  • Currently, less than one in three hospitals admitting stroke patients have a stroke unit.


  • For eligible patients, the provision of thrombolysis within 3 hours of the onset of stroke symptoms significantly improves patient outcomes.
  • Currently, just over half of our acute hospitals provide thrombolysis.
  • In the twelve months to April 2009 less than 3% of stroke patients received thrombolysis.

CT and MRI scanning

  • In 2008, CT scanning was available in 32 of 36 surveyed hospitals (27 with 24-hour 7-day services, 4 a day-time and one a half-time service).
  • MRI was available on a 24-hour 7-day basis on 19 of 36 hospitals with 2 having MRI on 2 days weekly.

Women and stroke

  • Stroke and heart attacks kill twice as many women as all cancers combined.

TIAs or Mini-Stroke

  • Approximately 2,500 patients are assessed in Irish hospitals annually with suspected TIA, as estimated from HIPE and the North Dublin Population Stroke Study data.
  • Risk of stroke is much higher for people who have had a stroke or TIA before. About 10% of people who have a stroke will have another in the first 12 months.
  • 11 Irish hospitals have TIA services to reduce risk of full stroke to patients who had suffered a mini stroke.

Stroke Rehabilitation

  • In 2006, less than half of stroke patients were seen by a physiotherapist within 72 hours of admission and only one in four had been assessed by an occupational therapist within seven days of admission.
  • A number of rehabilitation and support services are restricted to patients by age cut-off points.

Consultant manpower and staffing levels

  • In mid-2006, one third of hospitals had a consultant physician with specialist knowledge of stroke who was recognised as having principal responsibility for stroke services at the hospital. However, only 5 had a recognised formal sessional commitment in their contract.
  • In April 2009, there were lead physicians for stroke care in 26 hospitals (it is unclear to what extent their leadership role with regard to stroke care has been formally agreed); 9 hospitals had not identified a lead physician.
  • In 2006, there were only five clinical nurse specialists in stroke across all (37) relevant hospitals.

For more information on strokes please see:

Until next time, take care,


For more information on acupuncture in Dublin, Ireland see